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review 2017-07-28 16:46
Gwendy’s Button Box ★★★★★
Gwendy's Button Box: Includes bonus story "The Music Room" - Richard Chizmar,Stephen King,Maggie Siff

It’s odd to me that, given the emphasis in the afterward by Chizmar on getting the setting right, I don’t really recognize Castle Rock. But otherwise, this novella is a home run for me. I loved the character of Gwendy, and the mystery of the box. In true SK fashion, nothing is explained about how things work or why it happens, and it doesn’t matter at all, because the story is terrific.


The bonus story, The Music Room, wasn’t such of a much. It was more like flash fiction than a complete short story.


Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive. Excellent performance by Maggie Siff.

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review 2017-07-13 16:22
The Chemist (DNF) ★☆☆☆☆
The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

Welp, I gave it my best shot and powered through 25% before giving it up. It wasn't really terrible, but it was remarkably boring for something in the thriller genre. The MC is eyerollingly stupid.

(I mean, she seriously jumps to the conclusion that the subject she's been told to torture must have a multiple personality disorder as the most likely explanation for his radically different affect and body language. It was apparent to me, long before she even tortured him, that it was most likely that the government agency that had been trying to kill her for several years had misled her about the subject, and the guy was an innocent body double or close relative/twin or something. You can't tell me that she's never tortured an innocent person, or one who has no real information, before. That's patently unbelievable.)

(spoiler show)

The strong elements of Romance being introduced were also pretty off-putting

(especially in the context of a professional torturer and her torture victim)

(spoiler show)

But mostly, it was something about the prose. I've tried to think through it, but I'm not a literature scholar, so I probably can't articulate it well. There was just a relentlessly mind-numbing focus on telling the reader everything. She looks like this, she went here, she did these things, she drove this car, this is her strategy, she's taking these precautions and this is why. The author tells you EVERYTHING. Nothing is implied. Nothing is left to the imagination. The reader's senses are not engaged. Everything is explained, except a few clues about an apparent mystery that's not very mysterious. It was like listening to a technical manual being read aloud. After a little over 4 hours, I found myself engaging in stalling tactics to actually avoid listening to this book. 


All I know is that I'm only 15 minutes into another book, also in the thriller genre, and the difference in listening pleasure is just night and day. 


Audiobook, borrowed from my public library via Overdrive, using the Libby app. Ellen Archer's performance is okay. 

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text 2017-07-12 01:45
The Chemist: 9%
The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

Well, so far it's... not terrible. There's certainly a lot more exposition than I like in the first two chapters, but she's mixing it up a bit. 

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review 2017-07-11 14:07
The Time Machine and Other Stories ★★★☆☆
The Time Machine and Other Stories: Library Edition - H.G. Wells,Ralph Cosham

I haven’t read HG Wells since I received a collection of his stories for my 16th birthday. Of course, what I mostly remembered was The Time Machine, and being fascinated by the Eloi and Morlocks but bored by the rest of it. This particular edition is an audio collection of 10 stories of various quality, including The Time Machine. I expected that my experience with TTM would be entirely different as an adult, but was surprised to find that once again, the section following the encounter with the Eloi and Morlocks was a snoozefest, this time with a little eyeroll over the giant crab things. The difference is that I felt a little sorry for the Morlocks this time around, rather than sharing the narrator’s visceral disgust. I was much more interested in the author’s theories regarding the evolutionary outcome of the current (late 1800s Britain) political, social, and economic climate. I wonder why it never occurred to him that the oppressed industrial workers would revolt and take over as the balance of power shifted with the ruling class becoming increasingly weak and ineffectual with indolence and soft living?


The remainder of the short stories were mostly entertaining. Standouts were The Country of the Blind, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, and The Flowering of the Strange Orchid. The Cone was satisfactorily gory.


Stories in this collection:

  1. The Time Machine
  2. The Country of the Blind
  3. The Diamond Maker
  4. The Man Who Could Work Miracles
  5. Aepyornis Island
  6. The Flowering of the Strange Orchid
  7. The Cone
  8. The Purple Pileus
  9. The Truth About Pyecraft
  10. The Door in the Wall


Audiobook, borrowed from my public library. This is the first time I’ve borrowed a book in the playaway format, and I didn’t like it. For one thing, I had to supply my own battery. For another, the rudimentary playing controls made navigating through the short stories somewhat difficult. And lastly, I’m just plain old spoiled by reading apps on my phone, and appalled by how quickly technology becomes obsolete. It wasn’t that long ago that we would have been delighted by an audio coming already loaded in a (sort of) portable digital format, rather than having to keep inserting the CDs into our heavy Sony Walkman/Discman.


Ralph Cosham provides a very good performance. His somehow old-fashioned stylings really fit the stories.

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text 2017-07-11 13:27
The Chemist: 0%
The Chemist - Stephenie Meyer

I have very low expectations for this book, but perhaps that's my inner book snob coming out, because I'm prejudging this book on my prejudice toward the author, whose other books I've never read. I find book snobs laughable on principle, especially those who pass judgement on books and authors they've never read. 


So here we go. I put this on hold half a year ago, because my best friend, who reads voraciously but who doesn't at all share my taste in books, enjoyed this one very much and insisted that I try it. It finally came available last night, so I'm trying to suspend all judgement and dive in. 

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